Year-end can either be filled with numerous out of office notices or a complete overload of work, depending upon what industry you work in. In many cases, workload slows down in December and employees often try to exercise the last of their accrued vacation time before they lose it at the end of the month.
Despite what seems like a large number of people taking vacation, there are just as many folks who do not take the time off that they are entitled to.
According to Project: Time Off surveys, 55% of Americans did not use all their vacation in 2015. This represented 658 million vacation days, or $61.4 million in benefits, going unused last year.
Why aren’t employees taking the time away from the office that they have earned? For 25% of employees, they think their company expects them to work while they are on vacation, so they don’t bother taking the time off. For others, about two-thirds of employees, they hear nothing, mixed messages, or discouraging messages about taking time off, so they don’t feel actually entitled to take the time.
Before you write off vacation time or decide you can’t afford to take days off, know this. Project: Time Off also found that employees who take 10 or less days of vacation time per year are less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who took 11 days or more. It might be time to log those last few days before the year is up.
If you do plan some time off or are covering for someone who is out, there are a few things to keep me in mind to make the season bearable for you and for your coworkers left in the office while you’re out.
Communicate With Coworkers
“We all know the holiday break is coming so let’s be prepared,” said Alissa Carpenter, Career Discovery and Personal Development Coach at Everything’s Not OK and That’s OK, a life coaching company. “Communicate what projects are on the table right now and what needs to be done. Don’t wait until you are about to walk out the door to loop people in.”
It goes without saying that the better you establish clear communications around work that must be done while you are out or a peer is out, the happier everyone will be.
For many industries, work that must be completed by year-end has significantly reduced and many are hard at work on 2017 projects already. To ease the burden of people taking time off, prioritize outstanding projects so everyone knows what must be done in December and what can wait until everyone is back from their time off.
“Does the project or task you are working on have to be done right before the holidays or can it wait?” said Carpenter. “Assess the needs of the tasks on you and your co-workers plates before adding something else on.”
Set Reasonable Goals
This is not the time of year to plan a large company off-site meeting. In fact, the less time you demand of your peers and reports this time of year, the better. There are likely still some pressing projects to attend to, so if you focus time and effort on those, they will get accomplished.
Setting two simple goals for the last month of the year is best. For example, if you have client work that needs to be completed by year-end, that will obviously take top priority on your goal list. Maybe your other simple goal will be to complete your year-end review, or reviews for your direct reports.
Bottom line is that you have outstanding vacation time to take, you should exercise that time while you have it. It’s better for your career and health to spend time away from the office. It may be difficult on your coworkers for the short time that you are out, but communicating, prioritizing, and setting reasonable goals will make the holiday season pass without conflict or trouble.
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This article was written by Kaytie Zimmerman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.